Mines have always been hard and dangerous places. They have also been as dependent upon imaginative writing as upon the extraction of precious materials. This study of a broad range of responses to gold and silver mining in the late nineteenth century sets the literary writings of figures such as Mark Twain, Mary Hallock Foote, Bret Harte, and Jack London within the context of writing and representation produced by people involved in the industry: miners and journalists, as well as writers of folklore and song.
Floyd begins by considering some of the grand narratives the industry has generated. She goes on to discuss particular places and the distinctive work they generated--the short fictions of the California Gold Rush, the Sagebrush journalism of Nevada's Comstock Lode, Leadville romance, and the popular culture of the Klondike.
With excursions to Canada, South Africa, and Australia, Floyd looks at how the experience of a destructive and chaotic industry produced a global literature.
"Its brisk, readable prose and compelling excerpts offer an engaging read from cover to cover. Most provocatively, Claims and Speculations also makes a case for dethroning realism and naturalism as the favored literary expressions of an industrializing, international economy in the late nineteenth century."--Journal of American Studies
"Janet Floyd brings us a delightful commentary on the conjunction between mining and literary writing during the second half of the nineteenth century."--The Journal of Arizona History